Our campaign to keep Stockton-on-Tees out of the 'Crap Towns Returns' book is a success!
I am today celebrating the news that Stockton, initially on a long list of 100 towns, has thankfully been left out of the latest edition of the book of Crap Towns, "Crap Towns Returns".
You may remember that 10 years ago with the first edition of this book, Hull was declared the "most crap" town in Britain and never got over the slur. Hartlepool featured in the book too and it was very much harder for them to attract inward investment as a consequence.
You know as well as I do that we need to bring businesses to our area and the jobs that go with them if we are to pull back from the economic disaster facing the North East.
And you will understand that I was very keen to do everything I could to ensure that Stockton did not succumb to the same fate as Hull or Hartlepool.
The authors and publishers of the book made it known that if a town wished to be kept out of the book then it needed to engage with a positive publicity campaign.
There have been some criticisms from purists that this was only playing into their hands. And of course it was. But I am a marketing professional and I know how PR works. I understood that if we engaged with the authors' wishes and gave them the oxygen they wanted by talking up their book while talking down our inclusion then we had a very great chance of success.
And that was what really mattered to me as your candidate.
For the sake of the future economy of our area, we had to do whatever it took to keep Stockton out of the book.
There wont be much coverage about the town that wasn't crap after all. But believe me, if the Labour Party had not taken the challenge on and Stockton had featured in the book, we would be looking at negative publicity right across the UK. Nothing would have put people off more from moving to the area or bringing much needed investment here than a title like that!
Stockton South Labour Party rose magnificently to the challenge. And we brought many enthusiastic non-political residents on board too.
Together we ensured that the authors of the book heard at first hand how proud we are of our area.
Together we said that Stockton is a town rightly proud of its gold award as a Champion of Champions in Britain in Bloom; Preston Park was a finalist in the museum of the year this year; the borough's town centres have been revitalised, the villages within the town are chocolate box pretty and the River Tees has nature reserves along miles of its banks. The schools are great, the transport networks are excellent and the workforce highly skilled.
In recognising our efforts, Crap Towns Return co-author Sam Jordison said "Stockton ran a very good campaign. Lots of people spoke up for the town and there was plenty of local pride on display. Their success can be measured by the fact that Stockton didn't end up in the book..."
For what it is worth, this time London was the unfortunate winner – and the top ten (or bottom ten?) are here
Please join with me in celebrating a non-event, sometimes that is all that is required